Sands of Time

Sands of Time

A photo essay. To view all 10 images, check out the email edition.

* * *

Yesterday I went to the beach at Lighthouse Point. And unlike what happens at more touristy beaches, the postcards I left with were the postcards I’d brought, showing Lighthouse Point as it was about a century ago.

What’s changed? Fashion, for one. The cards show bathers wearing tight tanks and loose bloomers, not the most comfortable swimwear. But the people who really suffered were the pedestrians and boaters wearing full suits, flowing dresses and formal hats. The rules of urban style circa 1920 must have extended, without mercy, to the beach in summer.

sponsored by

Info New Haven

What hasn’t changed? The drive to be waterside. The salt that stings the eyes, the sand that batters the skin and the sun that fries it didn’t and still don’t keep us away from the beach. Ancient coastal rock formations remain as well, though time appears to have altered their shape. Timing has, too; the source images for the postcards were captured at low tide, while my attempts to recreate them were shot at halfway to high.

Mismatching lens specs posed a problem, too. And unlike one of the old photographers, I didn’t have a boat, forcing me to shoot the breakwater lighthouse from a lamentable distance. Still, if you squint at my photo below (or study this infinitely better one), you can see that the architecture shown on the postcard remains essentially intact.

In the end, the attempt to frame new photos to match old postcards, while revealing, was very imperfect. But it was worth the effort, which itself created a link between the past and the present. As I lugged a heavy gear bag around, my brow was soon pouring sweat over my eyes—timeless tears of summer to which the ladies and gentlemen in the postcards could surely relate.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

More Stories